How World War II Became Global

World War II (1939-1945) began with the German invasion of Poland, and its subsequent division between the Soviets and the Germans. On the Eastern front, the war began with full-time Japanese vs. Chinese war. The Soviets then tried to invade Finland in what is known as the Winter War. They failed.

The next step was the invasion of Western Europe by Hitler and his Nazis. He invaded Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Holland and northern France. (Southern France had a government sympathetic and controlled by Hitler). The Germans also tried to takeover Britain in the Battle of Britain—an aerial battle in 1940. The Germans met with defeat in Britain. Italy then entered on the side of Hitler and took another part of France. The Germans then invaded Yugoslavia.

Throughout WWII Spain under the dictatorship of Franco remained neutral. The other countries that remained neutral throughout WWII were Ireland, Portugal, Sweden, Andorra, Liechtenstein, the Vatican City and Switzerland.

The two main events that led to the globalization of WWII were the attack on Pearl Harbor and Operation Barbarossa.

Operation Barbarossa—June 22nd, 1941—was the attack by the Germans on their supposed ally the Soviets. This is significant because it made Russia a real power in the war, and also because it was the largest campaign in military history.

The Attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese occurred on December 7th, 1941. There is controversy over whether or not President Franklin D. Roosevelt had encouraged and/or desired the attack. Following the attack, FDR had to declare war on Japan. However, he wanted to fight the Germans. Coincidentally, Hitler declared war on the U.S. on December 11th, 1941, just four days after the attack on Pearl Habor. He had practically “saved the day” for FDR.

Therefore, Operation Barbarossa led to Russia being a full-time power in the war, and the Attack on Pearl Harbor brought America into the war in both the East and West.

At this point then Italy and Germany (Austria was annexed to Germany) were against the Allies (FDR (U.S.A.), Churchill (Britain) and Stalin (Russia)). Japan was fighting against America and China. There were several other countries all around the world fighting. The war was now officially global.

6 thoughts on “How World War II Became Global

  1. Some interesting points thought the pedant in me would say that Nazi Germany and the USSR were never allies. A non aggression pact is not a treaty of alliance. One of Nazi Germany’s first international treaties was non aggression pact was with Poland and they sure as hell weren’t allies. Hitler really invaded Yugoslavia as part of the bail out plan in Greece (odd how phrases carry over time but in different contexts) after Benito took it upon himself to invade Greece and messed it up.
    Also i would say that despite the geographical scale of the invasion of Russia it didn’t really contribute to the idea of globalisation of the war. If anything, save a few units from axis allies, it was almost a war within the war. the Russians for example saw it as the great patriotic war as opposed to the idea of it being part of a wider context.
    Japan had already been kicking our arses about in Asia for a few years before the attack on Pearl Harbour. Also it had been fighting in Manchuria for a while. it is actually interesting that given our own Anglo-Saxon/Eurocentric interpretation of history we don’t see that as part of the second world war until 1939. It could be argued that the Spanish Civil War and the Italian invasion of Abyssinia were just two other components in the global conflict that started before the official staring date but were contributing factors.


    • I agree with you. And definitely a non-aggression pact is not an alliance. Russia had one with Japan that they broke soon after WWII, so….as the old saying goes “All’s fair in love and war.” And that’s just what happens. 🙂


  2. Spain was neutral because Franco met Hitler in Hendaya (Spain) for hours and explained him that his country had just finish a civil war and was not in conditions to fight another war. Well done on Franco´s side.
    You have done a very good essay.!!!!


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